Super Mario (my big bro) lives in Cyprus. He is a world famous bowling coach. A simple Google search of his name, Mario Joseph, accompanied with the word “bowling” will evidence his global renown! What most people don’t know, however, is that Super Mario has many other attributes that far surpass his bowling credentials.
Mario is a fisherman. If you are one of “Mr Popular’s” 572 friends on Facebook then take a look at his “Secret Lake” photos to witness fish the size of small children – it throws a whole new perspective on the story about “the one that got away”! Mario fishes about once a week here in Cyprus with a couple of his bucolic buddies. His home is like a fishing tackle shop – with bugs in the freezer and a variety of fishing paraphernalia generally scattered around the place (hmmm not the tidiest of geezers I guess).
Last weekend I was privileged to witness Mario’s fisherman enthusiasm when we went walking at one of the local dams. Very exciting stuff this as it’s been chucking it down for weeks – today it even snowed a blizzard! In fact it’s been raining so much that 2012 is set to be the wettest year on record in over ten years… and so the dams here are already 85% full… and the mountain snow has yet to thaw and add to the rainwater that’s pouring into the dams. Back to the story: we went for a walk around this dam and eventually came to an area which was, I am reliably informed, “big enough for two swims” (and the fisherfolk among you will know what I mean). There were hundreds of fish – common carp apparently – basking in the sun, swimming to the surface to feed, big ones, small ones, medium sized ones – apparently preparing for spawning. It was a lovely sight to behold and although I generally prefer my fish battered and on a plate with chips, mushy peas and salt and vinegar, I have to admit that I was mesmerised. Mario was as happy as a clam (I’d like to say fish but it IS clam actually) and has vowed to go back there sometime for a spot of fishing.
As well as his love of fish, Mario has recently acquired a love of cats… well one cat actually… called Chip. “Chip” - a somewhat undignified name for a majestic feline that is clearly a cut above the rest. Chip’s regal appearance belies her origins for she is a feral cat and her name, bestowed by Super Mario, is a reference to the triangle of flesh that is missing from her left ear. We thought that she’d been in a vicious scrap but Chip is not ferocious (quite the opposite in fact – although she’s a deft catcher of mice and praying mantis). The missing ear flesh is evidence that she/he (I have not looked but I think she’s a she) has been spayed/neutered. The procedure, known as ear-tipping (or clipping), is apparently a universal sign of a neutered feral cat.
I was sufficiently interested in the plight of feral cats to find out how many there are in Cyprus. Well, Chip’s in good company because (according to one on-line source) it is estimated that there are around 3000 cats per square mile of populated areas in Cyprus!
Chip (I wish he’d call her something different) is a beautiful cat with a thick, fluffy coat and she really does have a majestic look about her. She loves to be pampered and purrs quietly when she snuggles up on your lap. She eats with her paws – we think she does this so as not to get her resplendent whiskers soiled. I think Mario has fallen for her feline charms as he talks to her somewhat lovingly – I know peeps, this IS worrying! The other week I heard this little one-sided conversation (and no, Mario does not know that I write shorthand verbatim – guess he does now!):-
“You’re useless without thumbs”… (Chip keeps eating)… “ooo, there’s a nice piece ooo yeah yum yum… fight for yer breakfast ya little b***er… you’re nothing but a little mercenary… your come here, eat your food then clear off”… cat nonchalantly glances in Mario’s general direction and carries on eating regardless…
Chip has two (or maybe even several) loving “owners”… I put this in parenthesis because, as Mario says, “Who can claim ownership of a cat?” Anyhow, regardless of her fickle approach to her adopted “owners” she is gradually ruling the roost – or whatever it is that cats do – at Mario’s place. She has learned to open the doors to his home and she sometimes taps on his window with her paws when she wants his attention – perhaps he should call her Catherine!